Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What Watchmen Means To Me, Pt. 2

The original 12 issues of the Watchmen comic book series were published in 1986 and 1987 by DC Comics. Originally designed to be a monthly comic book limited series, some of the issues took more than one month to produce. I bought each of these original issues off the newsstand in those years and read the entire series as it was being published.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was living and working in Kent, Ohio at the time. One of my friends who I worked with was also into comics and we would have illuminating conversations about Watchmen as those original issues were coming out. We would also talk about H.P Lovecraft and classic science fiction films like Fritz Lang's Metropolis.

Meanwhile, I was consuming everything that I possibly could that was even tangentially Watchmen related. I read as many other comics that I could find that were written by Alan Moore. I read Comics Journal interviews with the creative team and articles about the Watchmen property. I delved into the history of the fictional characters and read about how the series was created and where the characters came from.

I remember reading the first part of Hollis Mason's "Under the Hood," which appeared as a back-up text piece at the end of the Watchmen #1. This was the first time that I had read a text piece like this in a comic book. I thought it was brilliant to illuminate the history of comic book characters by using text like that.

Each of the issues of Watchmen seemed to have their own charm. We were introduced to this whirlwind of a story with #1. #4 contained the amazing origin of Dr. Manhattan. We witnessed the horrifying evolution and origin of Rorshach in #5. And #12 left us all speechless as it all ended, just as a novel would.

There were rumors of a Minutemen series after the original 12 issue run of Watchmen, but it never happened. Alan Moore eventually stopped working for DC Comics and continued to produce more exceptional comic book writing.

After publication of the comic book series, the 12 issues of Watchmen were collected into trade paperback form. This "graphic novel" format would prove to popularize Watchmen. In 2005, Watchmen was included in Time Magazine's list of 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. It was the only "graphic novel" to appear on that list. In 1988, Watchmen won a Hugo Award, which is an award for achievement in the science fiction and fantasy genre. Watchmen may still be the only comic book series to ever win a Hugo.

Watchmen is one of my favorite moments in comic book history. I have recommended the book countless times to comic book fans and non-fans alike. Watchmen has affected the creation of other comics, movies and TV series, too. The most notable of these is ABC's Lost and the writers openly state this.

Tomorrow: How Watchmen Affected My Life in the 1990's

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